Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Final Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR5), which will then appear in final form in the Federal Register . The Office of Management and Budget returned the rule to EPA early this month. The UCMR is an integral component of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) regulatory setting process, and water systems should prepare now to implement the rule. Importantly, in finalizing UCMR5, EPA anticipates that all public water systems serving 3,300 persons or more will be required to conduct sampling under the rule. This expands the number of systems serving between 3,300 and 10,000 persons that will conduct monitoring. There will also be a statistical sample of 800 smaller systems as well. This expanded sampling plan is contingent on EPA receiving adequate funding to support sample analysis for systems serving less than 10,001 persons. Because EPA will bear the UCMR5 analytical costs for small systems and federal appropriations can be uncertain each year, EPA is using a “monitor if notified” approach for systems serving 25 to 10,000 people. By early 2022, EPA will notify all small systems serving between 3,300 and 10,000 people of their anticipated requirement to monitor; EPA expects to confirm and schedule monitoring by July 1 preceding each collection year based on the availability of appropriations. Systems that have not already begun preparing to comply should review the rule requirements and EPA instructions carefully. UCMR5 monitoring is required of both wholesale and consecutive water systems. There are responsibilities requiring planning and preparation: All systems participating in UCMR5 must have a Safe Drinking Water Accession and Review System (SDWARS) account and correct information on file Ground water representative monitoring plan submittals Representative entry point monitoring proposals Large systems will need to procure laboratory analysis service from an approved laboratory NOTE : UCMR is implemented directly by EPA. States provide some assistance to EPA. Systems may receive less direction and assistance from states than if the state primacy agency was responsible for implementation. UCMR5 includes monitoring (1) 29 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) using both EPA Method 533 and EPA Method 537.1 and (2) lithium using one of several identified methods. PFAS and lithium are topics that may require a focused communication effort. Systems will schedule required sampling events within the January 2023 – December 2025 sampling period in coordination with EPA. AWWA has a suite of resources available on its PFAS resource page , including: AWWA Briefing on PFAS PFAS Technical Report Set , including a “ Source Water Evaluation Guide for PFAS ” Trending in an Instant : A Risk Communication Guide for Water Utilities AWWA recommends members review the posted data and post local results on their websites to demonstrate transparency, explain the purpose of UCMR and properly characterize results. In responding to inquiries, AWWA recommends that utilities: Acknowledge the concern all contaminants present to safe drinking water. Emphasize to media and consumers that you are committed to protecting public health. Point out that your utility seeks out and monitors for unregulated contaminants under UCMR to stay ahead of potential health risks. Make clear that your water meets federal and state standards for safety (clearly explaining any SDWA violations). Focus on how water risks are assessed and managed, using the rigorous scientific framework of the SDWA and your state (equivalents). Invite media and consumers to learn more about your local water quality by providing them with consumer confidence reports and other web-based information or connecting them to the appropriate utility contact. If possible, contact your local health department and/or a trusted academic voice to collaborate on a response. Water systems must distribute their consumer confidence reports (water quality reports) to customers by July 1. The CCR must include: An explanation of unregulated contaminants and their presence in drinking water, if detected, and A table summarizing data on detected regulated and unregulated contaminants. Questions can be directed to Steve Via , AWWA director of federal relations, or Greg Kail , AWWA communications director.